Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Since 1976, February has been designated Black History Month and has been observed throughout the United States. It serves as a celebration and a reminder that Black history is American history. In observance of Black History Month, 84-year-old Margaret Baker, Verona’s first Black city alderwoman, shared some thoughts.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes for the better through the years. I do believe racism in anyone is taught, is learned. I vividly remember racist remarks that were made toward my parents when I was a little girl. I remember the ‘whites only’ signs on the bathrooms and water fountains. And when I registered to vote, I had to say parts of the constitution. It’s just the way it was. But there’ve certainly been changes since those days and many for the better, thankfully. I see more respect these days. I never think about being Black. I don’t make an issue of it. I have white friends I dearly love, and they love me. We just need to keep moving forward.”
The Verona-born Margaret Baker, who has served on city council for more than 20 years, has long worked to make her town a better place. Her next project is the revitalization of Verona. She has two daughters, six grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She’s a member of the Trustee Board of Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, a member of the choir and a member of the Lee County Community Civitan Club.